We typically make it a practice to not discuss companies we actively work on our site. That can lead to issues and generally degrade our value. Besides, who wants to hear us gripe about issues we’re having?
We decided to make an exception.
We’re approaching the one year anniversary of Pop Center. It’s been a thrilling, awesome ride that has now seen the launch of a podcast and our YouTube channel produced at YouTube’s very own studios in New York City. There’s lots more coming too, and we’re excited about that.
The nit and gritty of our site is where it’s hosted and how all that works. For the non-technical, this is a complicated website that sees random traffic depending on the day of the week. Some of our biggest articles in the year include Jimmy Fallon’s tribute to the late Robin Williams, the trailer for Pitch Perfect 2 and Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” bit. Handling all that traffic requires some powerful software and hardware. That’s where SiteGround comes in.
We’re a small, scrappy site with a group of creatives trying to build something special. We chose SiteGround based on price and features. After a lot of careful consideration of competitors, we setup a server and started the very site you’re reading.
Now, a year later, our contract is up for renewal and our (former) friends at SiteGround have decided to raise the virtual rent. By double.
Imagine you rent a studio apartment for $900 a month. You enjoy the space, the view and the laundry room is typically clean. When your lease is up your landlord offers you the opportunity to stay, for $1800 a month. That’s a pretty steep incline and for a boot-strapped pop culture site like us, we’ll be living on the sewer grate in front of the subway soon.
But fret not. We have options and we’ll be moving to a new ISP that will serve us just the same for comparable rent.
SiteGround offers lots of great features that make them a viable web host for WordPress sites (like ours). The features here have helped us manage traffic and resources to make the site available even at times of peak traffic. Most importantly, up-front, they were priced competitively. After all, we chose them because of how well priced they were.
Downtime has also been non-existent with SiteGround. Comparatively, our sister-site podcast.thisispopcenter.com is hosted with another company (Site5) and we’re often awoken to alerts of the site being down (albeit briefly, but none-the-less down).
What stuck out to us was the tactic of switching rates on web hosting. For us, it’ll be a time consuming task of moving everything that makes Pop Center to another host and making it perfect. We’ll likely have to deal with technical issues and lots of adjustments. It’d be much easier to stay here, but it’ll also cost us. And therein-lies the reason why we perceive this as a bait and switch tactic.
SiteGround offers a great product. In our year with them, and my years of working on websites personally, I’ve never come across a host that worked so well and delivered a true 99.9999% uptime. Unfortunately, their sales tactics are an issue and that leaves us feeling uneasy.
UPDATE: SiteGround responded on Twitter:
— SiteGround (@SiteGround) July 3, 2015
This is true. Lots of web hosts do this. Some make it clear that the pricing only applies to the first term:
SiteGround has pointed out, correctly, that they do note the terms of their promotional prices only apply to the “first invoice” when you sign-up.
— SiteGround (@SiteGround) July 27, 2015
That’s true. What’s at question is good faith in their sales and customer service. After this article was written (and after at least two conversations with their team) they still went ahead and charged us, early, for that one year renewal. Half a month before the term of our contract was to expire.
When we reached out to their billing department, two hours after the charge, they agreed to refund the charge… minus a $30 fee.
While they eventually relented, after a lot of debate, to refund the full amount they charged two hours prior for a service we never intended to renew (and made that clear), this goes to the overall ethics of SiteGround. They offer a good service and features by dangling promotional pricing (which seems to always be the same, ironically) and make every effort to squeeze you for every dollar they can make from you.